Season Content Notes: Revenge plot, violence
Cesario, gentleman to Duke Orsino and once, in another life, a young woman called ‘Viola,’ was on a task he despised. Sent once again by the duke he loved to woo for that duke the Countess Olivia. To make matters worse, the last time Cesario had gone wooing for the duke, the countess had sent a love token — to Cesario.
It didn’t help that sometimes, when Orsino looked at or spoke to Cesario, Cesario thought he saw some reflection of his own feelings in the duke’s eyes. But that was just fancy. Men, Cesario knew, did not feel that way about other men. That Cesario felt so for the duke was only because he was… not the usual kind of man.
Thinking these glum thoughts, Cesario was eager for a distraction. He found it in the sight of a fool — one Cesario had seen only the night before performing for Duke Orsino. The fool was relaxing in the shade of a tree, playing lightly on a drum. So he called out to the fool, saying, “Save thee, friend, and thy music: dost thou live by thy tabour?”
The fool, knowing very well that Cesario knew who he was and how he made his living, rolled his eyes and replied, “No, sir, I live by the church.”
Not willing to be thwarted, Cesario returned, “Art thou a churchman?”
“No such matter, sir: I do live by the church,” the fool said, “for I do live at my house, and my house doth stand by the church.”
Cesario was not himself a fool and proved it now, saying, “So thou mayst say, the king lies by a beggar, if a beggar dwell near him; or, the church stands by thy tabour, if thy tabour stand by the church.”
“You have said, sir.” The fool stood and clapped his hands together. “To see this age! A sentence is but a cheveril glove to a good wit: how quickly the wrong side may be turned outward!”
Finally realizing that he was being made a mock of, Cesario was quick to try to redeem himself. “Nay, that’s certain; they that dally nicely with words may quickly make them wanton.”
“I would, therefore, my sister had had no name, sir,” the fool immediately gave back.
That paused Cesario, and he blinked at the fool a moment. “Why, man?”
“Why, sir, her name’s a word; and to dally with that word might make my sister wanton. But indeed words are very rascals since bonds disgraced them.”
“Thy reason, man?”
Starting to enjoy himself now, the fool looked around as if to see if anyone might overhear, then leaned in close and whispered to Cesario, “Troth, sir, I can yield you none without words; and words are grown so false, I am loath to prove reason with them.”
“Art not thou the Lady Olivia’s fool?”
“No, indeed, sir; the Lady Olivia has no folly: she will keep no fool, sir, till she be married; and fools are as like husbands as pilchards are to herrings; the husband’s the bigger: I am indeed not her fool, but her corrupter of words.”
“I saw thee late at the Count Orsino’s.”
“Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun, it shines every where.” The fool picked up his drum and acted as if ready to walk away. “I would be sorry, sir, but the fool should be as oft with your master as with my mistress.” Suddenly he stopped and looked back at Cesario quizzically. “I think I saw your wisdom there.”
Suddenly wary, Cesario said, “I’ll no more with thee,” and started on. He had no wish for this too-perceptive fool to ferret out his secrets.
The fool, not willing to let him go yet, took off his hat and held it before the young gentleman.
Cesario, too good-hearted for his own good, sighed and dug in his pockets. “Hold, there’s expenses for thee.”
“Now Jove,” the fool said, snatching the coin out of his hand, “in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard!”
Cesario had been right to fear the fool’s sharp eye, for the man had latched onto one of the gentlemen’s sore points — and weakness in his disguise. But Cesario did not betray himself by wince or word. Only leaned in until he could feel the fool’s breath on his cheek and said with a laugh, “By my troth, I’ll tell thee, I am almost sick for one; though I would not have it grow on my chin.”
Then he stood up and walked on, calling over his shoulder, “Is thy lady within?”
The fool chased after him, holding up the single coin he had conjured from Cesario’s pocket. “Would not a pair of these have bred, sir?”
“Yes,” Cesario said, “being kept together and put to use.”
The fool nipped in front of Cesario and stopped, forcing Cesario to stop as well. “I would play Lord Pandarus of Phrygia, sir,” he said, with a sudden change to highborn speech and courtly bow, “to bring a Cressida to this Troilus.”
Shaking his head, Cesario pulled another coin out and handed it to the fool. “I understand you, sir; ’tis well begged.”
The fool took it with a flourish and turned to dance in the direction of the manor. “The matter, I hope, is not great, sir, begging but a beggar: Cressida,” and as he said the name, he paused his dance to bow again to Cesario, “was a beggar.
“My lady is within, sir. I will construe to them whence you come; who you are and what you would are out of my welkin, I might say ‘element,’ but,” the fool shrugged, “the word is over-worn.
Cesario chuckled as the fool danced his way into the manor, leaving the gentleman to await the return of the lady of the house. Cesario was wise enough to recognize that good fooling takes wisdom and wit, else the fool will run afoul of his audience and suffer mischief. Unlike many so-called wise men who fall into folly from being oversure of themselves.
As Cesario waited, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew came out of the manor. “Save you, gentleman,” called Sir Toby.
“And you, sir,” Cesario replied with a little bow.
Sir Andrew carefully declaimed, “Dieu vous garde, monsieur.”
He was not prepared for Cesario to reply, in letter perfect French, “Et vous aussi; votre serviteur.”
Being suddenly out of his knowledge, Sir Andrew stammered a reply in English, “I- I hope, sir, you are; and I am yours.”
Clearing his throat, Sir Toby stepped closer to Cesario and waved toward the manor. “Will you encounter the house? my niece is desirous you should enter, if your trade be to her.”
“I am bound to your niece, sir,” Cesario replied but made no move toward the manor. “I mean– she is the list of my voyage.”
With a harrumph, Sir Toby waved to the house again. “Taste your legs, sir,” he said impatiently, “put them to motion.”
Blinking in confusion, Cesario could only say, “My legs do better understand me, sir, than I understand what you mean by bidding me taste my legs.”
“I mean, to go, sir, to enter.”
Before Cesario could answer, Countess Olivia herself came out of the manor, accompanied by Maria. Cesario immediately swept into a deep bow with even more courtly flourishes than the fool had used. “Most excellent accomplished lady,” he said, “the heavens rain odours on you!”
Everyone could hear Sir Andrew mutter, “That youth’s a rare courtier: ‘Rain odours;’ well.”
Ignoring him, Cesario continued addressing Olivia, “My matter hath no voice, save to your own most pregnant and vouchsafed ear.”
It cannot be said whether Cesario expected the lady to be flattered but this outpouring of verbiage. Perhaps he hoped his manner would put off the countess or wished to twit Sir Andrew.
If the latter, it worked. “‘Odours,’ ‘pregnant’ and ‘vouchsafed:'” that worthy muttered. “I’ll get ’em all three all ready.”
With a somewhat disturbed glance at the knight, Olivia took Cesario’s arm and led him toward her private garden. To Maria, she said only, “Let the garden door be shut, and leave me to my hearing.”